Get to Know the Holidays: April

Welcome to April, the month which typically brings Salvadorans a little change in the weather and the beginning of the planting season. In San Salvador, the month of April has an average of 6 days with rain showers compared to 1 day in March, and one can enjoy a slight cooling in the average daytime temperatures from 90˚F to 89˚F.  It is perfect weather for a trip to the beach, which is a common way for Salvadorans to celebrate la semana santa (Holy Week), which often falls in April.

Back in the March edition of Get to Know the Holidays, I included a little story about Palm Sunday, which is the start of Holy Week and as we know, has a variable date in the calendar.  A few years ago, I did a Holy Week series which also included a little more information about Palm Sunday, so for this holiday series, let's begin the month of April with the holy days following Palm Sunday.

Holy Thursday
Holy Thursday is an official (paid) holiday in El Salvador, at least for workers in the formal sector of teh economy. Among Christians, Holy Thursday continues to be a time to gather in the church, where the focus of worship includes the Last Supper, Jesus praying in the garden, and the betrayal.  In the Lutheran Church, the emphasis is on living as servants and taking care of the community.  Holy Thursday devotions usually include the act of washing one another's feet. 

Photos shared by the church

Photos shared by the church

Good Friday and Holy Saturday
Good Friday and Holy Saturday are also paid holidays, and while many families might spend the day at the beach or traveling to visit relatives, others may attend Good Friday processions, worship, or vigils. 

Sunset at El Tunco

Good Friday procession in Santa Ana (pre-COVID)

¡Feliz Pascua! Happy Easter!
If you studied Spanish in school in the United States, you may have learned that Pascua is the word for Easter.  Perhaps if you have traveled to El Salvador or other Spanish-speaking countries, you have also heard the word pascua used on Holy Thursday, during the Christmas season (as in felices pascuas or Feliz Pascua de Navidad), on Epiphany, as the name of a flowering tree or even in colloquial expressions (such as estar como unas pascuas - to be happy as a lark, or de pascuas a ramos - once in a blue moon).  

Pascua (in the US known as poinsettia)

English speakers might notice the similarity of pascua to paschal (a churchy word rooted in the Latin word for Passover).  Pascua is in fact the word used for Passover, and so can be heard throughout scriptures read in Spanish, from the Old Testament to the Last Supper to the writings of Paul.  Pascua can refer to any holy period of time, and has different uses in different parts of the world and different parts of El Salvador. Salvadorans most often say "Happy Easter" as "Feliz día de la Resurrección" or "Feliz domingo de la Resurrección" or "Feliz Pascua de la Resurrección."

Easter Sunday - photo submitted by the church

April 22:  International Day of Mother Earth (Earth Day)
Earth Day or the Day of Mother Earth is celebrated in El Salvador in many of the same ways as in the rest of the world.  Communities do clean-up campaigns, plant trees, and participate in advocacy events to protect the earth, the water, the plants, and the animals.

Earth Day logo shared by Comunidad Rutilio Grande

Photo credit: Comunidad Rutilio Grande

Photo credit: Comunidad Rutilio Grande

Photo credit: Comunidad Rutilio Grande

Photo credit: Pastor Gloria, shared on Earth Day (activism to save Valle de Ángel)

Mother Earth Day shared by Pastor Gloria


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